Cases of recontextualising the environmental discourse in the National Curriculum Statement (R-9)

by Ramsarup, Presha

Abstract (Summary)
With an intention of opening a vantage point on the story of how curriculum is actually created, this study follows the recontextualising of the environmental discourse of the National Curriculum Statement (R-9) in three case sites. These are: Grade seven Department of Education training material developed to introduce educators to the NCS (R-9), Delta Environmental Centre an environmental education non-governmental organisation, a rural primary school situated south of Durban. Using elements of the Bernstein’s (1990) framework of pedagogic discourse, the study traces how the environmental discourse was de-located from the field of production and relocated into the pedagogic practice of each case. In trying to follow the continuity, changes and discontinuities in the official [environmental] discourse as it is recontextualised, the study utilises Bernstein’s conceptual constructs of selective appropriation and ideological transformation. These constructs of selective appropriation and ideological transformation enabled me to ‘look into’ each case and get a perspective of how to explain the recontextualising processes. The study acknowledged that discourses are shaped and steered by historical, political and economic realities and begins by tracing the genesis of the environmental discourse within formal curriculum policy in South Africa. This socio-historical review highlights the main factors and happenings that shaped the present curriculum discourse and its production as official policy discourse. The study highlighted that within each case the recontextualising story is unique but some clear patterns emerged as factors that impacted on recontextualising processes. These were the role of history and context, knowledge and experience of the discourse, ideology and emphasis, and the depth with which the discourse was engaged. The discussion of these factors gave valuable insights into the recontextualising of curriculum discourses. The study comments on the need to clarify the environmental focus in the Learning Areas and to actualise this into practice so that the discourse becomes an integral part of teaching, learning and assessment. The study also highlights the need for professional development opportunities that will enable educators to clarify the nature and focus of the environmental discourse in the NCS (R-9), and its articulation in Learning Area in context. In particular, the environment and social justice relationships appear to require greater clarity of focus and interpretation in recontextualising processes. There also appears to be a need to develop educators’ foundational knowledge of environmental issues to strengthen the recontextualising of this discourse.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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